We still have several months before the 2018-19 College Dodgeball season kicks off, but it’s always nice to start speculating for the coming year. Listed below is my way-too-early top 25 for next season:
Six straight national titles and counting. GVSU returns all but two starters in 2018-19, making them a very easy choice as the preseason #1 team in College Dodgeball. The Lakers’ roster is absolutely loaded with talented veterans heading into this season. I have a hard time envisioning this team losing too many games this year, as the gap between them and the second best school seems wider than in recent years. In fact, the last time a team was this big of a favorite heading into the season was probably GVSU back in 2009?
I’m buying into the hype for JMU this year. They have a deep roster filled with athletic players. The missing piece last year was just that they lacked coordination and strategy in some big games. Now that this team has more experience under their belt, I expect them to be a much improved group in 2018-19. Don’t be surprised when James Madison goes undefeated against East Coast opponents all of next year, and challenges for a national title in the spring.
SVSU’s 2017-18 was a roller coaster ride to say the least. The team had some low moments throughout the year, but also a few very high moments including their Final Four run at Nationals. The Cardinals will return the vast majority of their play-makers from last year, making them a favorite to repeat as a Final Four team in 2019.
The youth movement is real in East Lansing. The 2017-18 season began with MSU having a lot of doubters after graduating a crazy amount of star players, and ended with MSU having as much forward momentum as any team in the nation. The Spartans lose a few key players to graduation heading into this season, but their sophomore class is loaded, and I fully expect them to bring in another stellar recruiting class this fall (they’ve actually already got a few players on board… read here & here). Can this young squad make the jump all the way to the Final Four? I’m a believer.
Central Michigan’s streak of four-consecutive National Title Game appearances is in jeopardy as we head into the 2018-19 season. Captain Austin Brege has his work cut out for him, as he will need to bring in a solid class of rookies to fill out a roster that was depleted after last year’s graduating class left. Brege and Kevin Nguyen will be All-American level players in 2019, but will they have a strong enough supporting cast to make them title contenders again?
Towson will need to count on some new faces to step up as stars in 2018-19 if they want to once again make a push for the Final Four. The Tigers are still my pick as the #2 team in the east, but I’m afraid the gap may be closing between them and the next wave of schools in their Region.
What will BGSU do as an encore after an incredible run in 2017-18? The Final Four finish last year is certainly a tough act to follow, not to mention the Falcons will need to replace a few very important pieces. I still expect them to compete at a high level, and challenge for an Ohio Dodgeball Cup in 2019.
Kent State was a serious title contender in 2017-18, but can they once again reach that level of competitiveness after losing so many top players to graduation? I expect the Ohio Region to be ridden with parity in 2019, and I still give Kent State a chance to climb their way back to the top in their state.
UVA was one of the most impressive teams to watch towards the end of the season in 2017-18. The Cavaliers play well together as a team, and they aren’t short on talent. With their entire lineup returning in 2018-19, I have very high expectations for this (still very young) program. I think 2019 will be a breakthrough year for UVA.
VCU’s best team ever was their 2018 unit that made it all the way to the Second Round at Nationals. This year’s team is tasked with replacing several VCU legends while somehow maintaining that same level of success. I believe VCU has enough talent this year to once again challenge for a spot in College Dodgeball’s top 10.
Akron enters this fall with higher expectations than ever before. This team will have more talent and experience in 2018-19 than ever in program history. Will they perform well enough to challenge the top teams in Ohio? That is still to be seen.
Miami had as impressive of a rise as any team in the country last season. This group, led by Tom Morand, is positioned to take yet another step forward as a program in 2018-19. Miami certainly has the skill to climb into the top 10 this year. If the back half of their roster can make major strides, I wouldn’t be surprised if this team finds themselves in the running for a spot in the Quarterfinals at Nationals 2019.
Kentucky is an interesting case heading into 2018-19. The Wildcats have a solid group of young players ready to take a step forward in their development, but it is hard to project just how good they will be. My sources tell me Menchaca and Parise will both be back for the fall semester, so that should ease the team’s transition to start the season.
Maryland is another East Coast team that flew under the radar for most of the year before making a huge splash towards the end of the season. I have a feeling this will be the best UMD squad since the Rohan Mittal days. A big plus for the East Coast Region as a whole.
Penn State got a massive boost this offseason when they won the vote to host Nationals 2019. PSU hosting the season’s final event will be a benefit for a team that will have plenty of talent and potential in 2019. Despite losing a lot of talent to graduation, I expect PSU to be as good if not better in 2019 as they were last year.
It’s a new era for OSU Dodgeball in 2018-19. This team is a bit of a wildcard for me, as they have the potential to climb higher up these rankings, but their talent is still so unproven. The fall of 2018 will be very telling for the Buckeyes.
UWP missed out on hosting Nationals in 2019, but they do bring back a solid core of players from 2018. I expect the Pioneers to once again challenge themselves throughout the year playing against tough competition. 2019 Nationals will see UWP get back to their tradition of performing surprisingly well in the season’s finale tourney.
After not attending Nationals in 2018, and graduating arguably the best player in program history (Adam Hynes), Ohio certainly has a lot to prove heading into the new season. In the ever-crowded Ohio Region, it won’t be easy to remain in the conversation as an Ohio Dodgeball Cup contender.
Kyle Dattelbaum is out, Thomas Clements is in as the new headliner for UNG. I expect this squad to once again be the best in the South. They will have to hold off a few rising squads in UCF and GSU.
Central Florida showed a lot of promise in their limited action in 2018. I saw enough potential in this group to give them a spot in the top 20 for 2019. Very excited to see how this young program continues to develop.
UNL progressed well over the course of the season, and had a nice showing at Nationals despite playing some stiff competition. I expect the Huskers to continue to improve this year.
GSU clearly has a few great players, but my concern remains whether they have the quality depth to beat any teams ranked above them. I am excited to see this group develop in their third year as a program in 2018-19.
DePaul may not be a title contender, but they always impress me with the amount of talent they have on their roster. I am not completely sure which DePaul stars return in 2019, but I expect them to once again be a fringe top 20 level team.
West Virginia was inducted into the NCDA last winter. They will be ready to take another step forward as a program this season. WVU should benefit greatly from their location, as they will be able to easily travel to tournaments in both Ohio and the East Coast Region.
The Pacific Northwest became the newest region in the NCDA last year with Gonzaga and Oregon State joining the league. Gonzaga returns more players this year, so I expect them to be the best team out west in 2019.